Recipe: Healthy Vegetable Lasagna

Uncooked lasagna

As I discussed in my last post, I spent some time earlier this week at my friend Ari’s house while she recovered from surgery. While she was napping I made myself at home in her kitchen and raided her refrigerator and pantry for ingredients for an unknown dish.

Sliced zucchini & yellow squash Baby spinach

The first thing I made was this white bean and red pepper soup. But that soup didn’t satisfy my need to create; I wanted to leave Ari and her husband with a substantial, nutritious meal and finally decided to make a low-sodium vegetable lasagna. Just like the soup, I didn’t add any sodium to the recipe, which was so difficult for me. I used canned spaghetti sauce which had sodium in it as well as salty Parmesan cheese, and put about a half teaspoon salt into the big pot of boiling water for the noodles. But that was it, I swear!

Spinach in marinara sauce Layering lasagna

Ari called me last night to tell me they ate the lasagna for dinner and loved it. She made one suggestion that it would help to thin out the ricotta cheese, which can easily be done by mixing it with a bit of the sauce. In the end, this recipe was a very healthy winner!

Lasagna baking Low-sodium vegetable lasagna

Low-Sodium Vegetable Lasagna

Non-stick cooking spray

1 zucchini, thinly sliced in long, wide strips

1 yellow squash, thinly sliced in long, wide strips

1 small onion, diced

1 26-ounce jar (3 cups) marinara sauce

4 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped

15 ounces ricotta cheese

9 pieces whole wheat lasagna noodles

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350F and set a large pot of water over high heat to boil.

Set a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Working in batches, arrange the zucchini and yellow squash in a single layer in the pan and cook until tender, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Remove the vegetable strips from the pan and repeat until all the pieces have been cooked. Set aside.

Coat the pan again with cooking spray and return to medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and transluscent, about 6 to 8 minutes. Pour in 2 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce. Once the sauce has become hot, stir in the spinach and cook until the spinach has wilted. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

Combine the remaining 1/2 cup marinara sauce with the ricotta cheese in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Cook the lasagna noodles in the boiling water (salt lightly if desired) according to package instructions. Drain well.

Pour 2/3 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking dish, being sure to completely cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce. Lay three lasagna noodles over the sauce, then arrange the zucchini and squash in a single layer. Top with one-third of the ricotta mixture followed by another 2/3 cup marinara sauce. Repeat until all the noodles, squash, ricotta and marinara sauce have been layered. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

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